Published January 28, 2009
TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for "profound changes" in U.S. foreign policy on Wednesday, including giving up support for Israel, during an address to thousands of people in the western city of Kermanshah.
President Obama on Tuesday, in an interview with Arabic television, called for more dialogue with Iran to express difference and see "where there are potential avenues for progress."
Without mentioning President Barack Obama by name, Ahmadinejad Wednesday repeatedly referred to those who want to bring "change," a word used often in Obama's election campaign, and indicated that Iran would be looking to see if there would be substantive differences in U.S. policy.
"We welcome change but on condition that change is fundamental and on the right track," Ahmadinejad said. "When they say 'we want to make changes', change can happen in two ways. First is a fundamental and effective change... The second ... is a change of tactics."
Ahmadinejad also demanded the U.S. apologize for 'crimes' committed against Iran; specifically, criticizing and trying to block their nuclear program.
"Those who say they want to make change, this is the change they should make: they should apologize to the Iranian nation and try to make up for their dark background and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said.
Later Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that the U.S. administration is undertaking a wide-ranging and comprehensive survey of U.S. foreign policy options toward Iran.
Clinton also said Iran had a "clear opportunity" to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari, speaking in Athens, Greece, said Tuesday that it was too early to say whether relations with the United States would improve with Obama as president.
Washington is at odds with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program and its Mideast policy that seeks to destroy Israel and supports the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge and refuses to give up uranium enrichment, saying it has the right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to produce nuclear fuel.
"Who has asked them (the United States) to come and interfere in the affairs of nations?" Ahmadinejad said.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.